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12.11.2019 Feature Article


LISTEN NOV 12, 2019

Sixty-two solid years of independence and this motherland doesn't have a single 100 kilometre stretch of a freeway. Despite the exponential increase in vehicular numbers and exclusive dependence on movement by road, one can hardly travel on five kilometres of dual carriage road, anywhere in the country, without encountering one speed ramp of a kind, or rough patches, or a pothole of whatever size. Astonishingly, the two we could have had, the Nsawam and Nkawkaw dual carriage bypasses (Accra-Kumasi highway), were quickly obstructed with speed ramps.

Freeway, I thought, is a first class motoring road that has no obstructions such as intersections, ramps, bumps, rumble strips or any weirdly designed speed control structures such as those I saw on the Adomi Bridge to Asikuma Junction stretch some years back. I wish someone will tell me about what happened to the planned build, operate and transfer (BOT) coastal freeway from Aflao to Elubo thereabouts or even all the way to Abidjan. It has yet to materialize. I would like to know if it will happen, when and how soon.

I wish I knew even a bit about engineering that would have helped me to make more sense about what I say about interchanges; because it is the engineer who knows much about them. I don't want to talk like some political party communicator. When you don't know, you talk like a party communicator saying what they know and don't know. So for example, you can talk and make it look like Onaapo Dubai was worth all the foreign exchange that was sank into raising concrete without trees to support climate mellowing effects. I think my layman voice can, however, get the engineers to speak their knowledge.

What I mean is that I want to be able to travel from the point where the Ring Road meets the La-Osu road all the way across Mallam to Cape Coast and Takoradi without having to stop because another vehicle is crossing. So from that junction, there will be no Labone junction stop. At Danquah Circle, it will be an overpass or underpass like it is at Ako Adjei Interchange. There from, at all other junctions, Kanda Highway, Kokomlemle-ATTC, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Obetsebi-Lamptey Circle, Kaneshie (Mpanprom and First Light), Kokompe, Odorkor, Darkuman, Kasoa, Awutu Senya, Winneba Junction and all the other intersections will be simple overpass or underpass.

I am unhappy with unknowing engineering mainly because I feel like when you do an interchange, you invite more vehicles to come to that spot either by purpose or unintentionally. For example, for someone travelling from Tema by motorway through Walker Bush to the West, may want to divert to an Onaapo interchange if they think La Paz, Nyamekye, Kwashieman, Awoshie would be clogged.

What I have said before, and which I continue to hold, is that the amount of money spent on interchanges ought to be enough to open up stretches by constructing alternative routes and doing more overpass-underpass. Sometime ago, I used the east-west, west-east crossing as an example. There's supposed to be a road from Amasaman to Kasoa. If the Nsawam-Adeiso-Agona Swedru-Mankesim-Abura Dunkwa stretch was asphalted, you can imagine the relief that would bring to Winneba and all the junctions from there to Yamoransa. With a series of overpasses from there through Cape Coast, there might not be congestion at all moving east west or vice versa.

I am thinking holistic approach to easing traffic. All that effort can be supplemented with the BOT freeway. Another unexploited means is water transport. We can have small ships or boats of comfort travel along the Coast. From Accra, one should be able to travel to Cape Coast and Takoradi by water. Time in travel is of essence but there could be a fast boat system that could do the journey faster by water than by land.

I would be most grateful to anyone who would affirm that the interchanges we have built so far, and will soon build, are the best thought out most viable engineering solutions. The motherland deserves the best in this day and age of technology, best meaning the workable that is cost-effective. It would soothe my heart to learn they were built on the basis of value for money. That was a presidential inaugural speech concern I share, and I am sure many other compatriots share widely and dearly.

My uninformed point, because I am not an engineer, is that let us use all the money we spend on interchanges to construct simpler overpasses and underpasses to make traffic flow for as many kilometres of stretches as possible. That way, traffic will flow on more roads and we would be creating more freeways. What works should precede a spectacle of the aesthetically modern. Simple flyovers can be designed to be nice and workable.

By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh

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